How Should You Respond To Everyday Accomplishments?

It is a joy to see a child with a disability accomplish the same things that other children do, such as reading, playing on the jungle gym, or going through the lunch line. It is important, however, to distinguish between accomplishments that are attained with about the same degree of effort that is required from most children and those accomplishments that really represent a challenge to the disabled child. If people react to ordinary accomplishments that were not particularly difficult to attain as if they were extraordinary, children can develop unrealistic views of themselves. This unrealistic view could be either an inflated view of their capabilities and accomplishments, based on the continual assessment elicited from others, or a deflated view, based on the obviously limited expectations others hold for children with disabilities. On the other hand, encouragement and reinforcement should be expressed when youngsters accomplish tasks made difficult by their specific disabilities. For a child with cerebral palsy, dressing himself would be one such example.

How Much Help Should Be Given?

One of the benefits of mainstreaming is that children can help their disabled classmates. Of course, too much help can become a hindrance if it robs the child of opportunities to learn and practice independence. Generally, if a child cannot handle some procedure or material, she or he should be given an opportunity to learn how to do it if at all possible.

Is There Anything Special That Needs To Be Done?

There are special considerations that can be helpful to children with special disabilities. For example, keep in mind that children who have visual impairments depend upon what they hear and touch to bring them information about their surroundings. Provide opportunities for visually impaired children to handle things that children with normal vision can simply look at. It is also helpful to describe new people, things, and events as they come into the child’s environment.